Autumn must be the season for fantastic entrepreneurs to visit CSU, because I have been blessed to meet many this year, including Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva.org, who spoke in early November I first learned of Kiva a few years ago, when I received a gift of $25 USD to lend through their online portal. As the loans are repaid, I have used this money multiple times across the globe to help support micro-entrepreneurs. Here is some of the Kiva story, which I hope will inspire you as much as it does me.
Jessica Jackley and Matt Flannery began work on Kiva.org after a life-changing service trip to Haiti gave them both unique perspectives on development. Jessica, having participated in child sponsorship through “Save the Children,” became focused on empowerment through business. After hearing Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank speak while working at Stanford, Jessica and Matt were moved to action. In 2005, their pilot (or ‘minimum viable product’ in MBA-speak) was money sourced by family and friends and loaned to just a single entrepreneur. Later that year, seven loans had been fully paid back. They started slow and small, but today their growing organization is a 501(c)(3) that has lent over $300 million dollars to nearly 800,000 people, with a nearly 99% repayment rate. Kiva.org was the world’s first peer-to-peer micro-lending website.
As Jessica spoke about the Kiva story, you could see her passion for her work. This was hard work, but fun and rewarding for her. There were several key points I wanted to share.
- Know your mission: What are or aren’t priorities, and how are your actions tied to your identity. What stirs your heart?
- Stop to Listen: Learn to empathize with open hearts and eyes. Each story has a unique lesson. Listen closely and find the themes.
- Co–Create: Solve problems together, there is power in collective work.
- Share Your Lessons: There are lessons everywhere: when you learn one, tell people about it. In the face of naysayers you may be the only one who sees an answer.
- Take it Personally: Put your heart in to your work.
- Take it Seriously: Put your mind and body into your work.
- Take our Story Seriously: Know that you can do great things in the world.
- Believe in your own potential: No explanation necessary.
- Find Good Mentorship: Know what to ask. Find people with experience in your field of interest. Create quality relationships.
Jessica suggests that following these nine essential elements can help you achieve holistic success rooted in impact. I walked away from this talk feeling confident in the direction of my MBA, and excited to be focusing business acumen and methods on goals that elevate people and the planet. The world sometimes seems bleak, but hearing powerful words from change-makers like Jessica Jackley, I know I am in good company as we work towards a collective good.